Assessing periodization in histories of literary translation

Isis Herrero López


When investigating the history of translation of Jane Austen in Spain, I always feel the need to establish historical periods to handle materials, data and trends. From time to time, I also feel the need to redefine those periods, even to use different time frames altogether. However, it is only irregularly that I find academic debates about such an important part of research on translation history. In the present article, I examine the way in which we, Translation Studies scholars, reflect on periods and periodization systems. I build my analysis around three interlinked questions: the type of periods we use, how we use those periodization systems, and why we use those periods and not others. I examine theoretical reflections on translation history, and include practical case studies from four national histories of translation and/or literary translation (China, Finland, Turkey, and Spain). At the end, I emphasize that we, as a discipline and as individual researchers, must debate critically about our periods and periodization systems in order to advance in the study of history of translation with awareness and analytical perspective.


history of translation, literary translation, periodization, historical periods, translation historiography

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